Talking to Your Children

If you are a parent of young children or teenagers, you may be wondering how to tell them about your cancer. Although your instinct may be to want to "protect" them by not telling them what is happening, we now know that cancer in the family is an almost impossible secret to keep, and only makes coping with it more difficult.

One of the things we know about children is that they are very intuitive. Sometimes, the effort to hide the facts or shield them from pain can backfire. In order to make sense of the changes and anxiety they sense around them, they make up their own explanations-sometimes much worse than the truth.

While it can be very stressful, parents and their children can and do learn to cope with cancer and its treatments. But, they need information, support and guidance.

Fortunately there are excellent resources available to you and your family to help you with this.

Our counsellors in Psychosocial Oncology can help you work things through as a family either by meeting with you, with your family together or with your child(ren) on their own. They can also help you find other resources that would be most appropriate for you.

One of our special programs is an information and support group called Kids Can Cope for children aged 5- 18 who have a close family relative with cancer, which we have been running since 1987. We have developed considerable skill, knowledge and expertise and are nationally renowned for our work in this area.

Both the Patient and Family Resource Centre and the Breast Cancer Centre of Hope have books, pamphlets and videos on how to talk to children and what to expect in terms of their reactions, as well as similar resources designed to be read or viewed by children and teens themselves.